Stenhousemuir have called for more supporter involvement in the running of the club as it attempts to balance rising costs and falling revenues.
At a packed meeting at Ochilview on Monday night, new chairman Gordon Thompson outlined the financial challenges facing the Warriors and explained his vision of how they could be met.
Early exits from both the League and Scottish Cups this season, falling attendances at home matches and a decline in revenues generated from local teams hiring Ochilview’s artificial pitch were all blamed for the cash flow issues which the club is now dealing with.
Directors are actively looking for new sources of income and short-term loans have been pledged in the interim, meaning that all of the club’s bills are still being paid on time and there is no threat of entering administration.
Monday’s meeting was called following a tough few weeks for Stenhousemuir. A statement released on January 21 first revealed the difficulties at Ochilview.
There has been no respite for supporters on the park as the first team has endured a difficult campaign, culminating in the dismissal of manager Scott Booth last week and the appointment of former Warriors star Brown Ferguson as caretaker boss until the end of the season.
“We are working to a basic cost base which has not altered much over the last three seasons,” said Thompson.
“The club has based its budget this season on the previous two seasons - both of which had increased revenues from cup runs and transfer fees.
“So why do we include these things in our budgets? Because every year the club has to have an element of risk built in.
“What we as a board didn’t do well enough at the start of the financial year was fully forecast the negative effect of how a number of significantly reducing income streams would impact on the club’s cash flow.
“In essence, all of the negative income streams have aligned to present us with the financial situation we are now dealing with.
“The other mistake, and this goes back a few years, is that the board has simply not been close enough to the day-to-day finances.”
Thompson explained the club had until recently outsourced financial management to bring “more professionalism” to its accounts.
This was done due to the increased complexity amid growing income at the club from areas such as commercial pitch hire.
“To put it plainly, the board was relying on reports and forecasts from our professional advisors telling us about the finances without having a detailed knowledge of the actual pounds and pennies,” said Thompson.
“This will never happen again.”
An independent financial advisor carried out a review of the club’s finances in late December at the board’s request.
“We currently have pledges of funds which will come into the club via director’s loans,” continued Thompson.
The chairman went on to say that communication between the board and fans needed to be improved.
“It is vital that supporters have their say. If there are criticisms, we want to hear about them. I encourage anyone that wants to discuss anything about the club to make a direct approach and I can arrange to make myself available.”